How Do We Solve The Women In Tech Leadership Problem?

April 22, 2012


Before our attention was diverted with the blockbuster acquisition of Instagram, Facebook recently caught media attention for not adding any women to its board of directors.  As a result, the women in technology leadership problem has been a hot topic around the blogosphere, which I read with avid interest.

Being a former engineer, I am used to working and leading in male-dominated companies.  There were always some women in my working circles, so I did not notice a huge gender imbalance and never really gave it much thought.  However, for the first time in my career I am working with a large team that has less than 15% women.  Now I am noticing the difference.  We would hire more women… if we found them on LinkedIn or they applied.  There are just not that many women with the skills we need.

The following blog posts were the first that caught my attention:

I enjoyed @skirtsocial’s point of view in the second article: it is not that women are not interested in technology leadership careers, we are just particular about where we choose to get involved.  Her article was sparked by The Tech Ceiling (The Daily) and also references The Men and No Women of Web 2.0 Boards (All Things D, Dec 2010) and Where Are the Women Executives in Silicon Valley? (NY Times Bits, Dec 2011).  They are all worth reading.

I applaud the first article mostly because of the blog on where I found it: a middle school parent’s blog.  If we are going to encourage young women to not think about gender roles when deciding on a career, that’s where it starts.  Marissa Mayer’s story is also a great one to share because where she ended up is not where she had planned when she started university, which is something that happens to most of us but most students don’t know.  It’s worth reading the full article, originally published on the Huffington Post: Google Exec Marissa Mayer Explains Why There Aren’t More Girl Geeks.

At the same time, Dan Rockwell on Leadership Freak wrote an interesting series on the differences between women and men in leadership roles.  While Facebook attracted attention to the technology sector, the gender imbalance in leadership roles is not just there.  Getting women interested in technology is only one challenge.  An even greater challenge is women rising to the top seats in any corporation.  The discussion on these posts is fascinating:

As I wrote in my own recent reflection on my career, the women in tech leadership problem is complex.  There are no simple solutions.  All of us in industry, both men and women, need to get involved.  We all need to be role models.  Girls also look up to their fathers, brothers, uncles, teachers and mentors and can choose to be just like them.  We also need to help our school systems.  Our impressions of career choices start in school and many teachers and guidance councillors have a limited view on the possibilities.  I agree with @skirtsocial: how and where women choose to get involved will be our choice, but we should be excited about how many possibilities we have.

What are your thoughts on how we solve the women in technology leadership problem?  Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

Enhanced by Zemanta

, , ,

About Liza Wood

After a dozen years leading video game development projects in a variety of roles, I decided to pursue a Master of Data Science at the University of British Columbia. Studying data science doesn’t mean I’m moving away from leading people. Growing data science teams need collaborative, pragmatic, Agile leadership to connect data to all areas of the business. I would like to share that point of view, along with my experiences, on this blog.

View all posts by Liza Wood

Subscribe & Connect

Subscribe to our RSS feed and social profiles to receive updates.

4 Comments on “How Do We Solve The Women In Tech Leadership Problem?”

  1. Leanne Says:

    Communication is the key. As you know, because you know me very personally, that I’ve had more than my fair share of struggles in technology. Mostly because I try, at least, to communicate the struggles and needs of people. How effective I have or have not been has always been a learning experience, but often times people’s individual paradigms cripple women. We’re not as advanced as we think, and sometimes, there are spots of brightness, else I’d have given up long ago.

    As with most things, effective communication is what is critical in deciding values, goals, vision, and seeing people first versus gender.


    • Liza Says:

      Communication challenges (and differences between men and women) could fuel an entire daily blog all on its own. Communication is a two-way street. Unfortunately that is not always the case, no matter the gender.



  1. How Do We Get More Women In Tech? « Sockets and Lightbulbs - December 28, 2012

    […] How Do We Solve The Women In Tech Leadership Problem? […]

  2. Why This Woman Paused The Executive Race « Sockets and Lightbulbs - December 30, 2012

    […] How Do We Solve The Women In Tech Leadership Problem? […]

Please Share Your Thoughts

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: